First Culinary Challenge at Azusa Pacific

by Karla Shirvanian '10

On January 20, Azusa Pacific University held its first ever culinary challenge. The challenge took place in conjunction with the 10th annual National Association of College and University Food Services Culinary Challenge, which provides recognition to college and university culinary professionals in a venue where they can exhibit culinary talents, techniques, and regional food styles.

The event began with the five campus chefs who had 60 minutes to prepare four plates of their signature dish to be critiqued by a panel of judges. The chefs were Mahesh Pradhan, banquet chef; William Morris, Cougar Walk supervisor, inventory, production coordinator, and food management supervisor; Maged Gerges, banquet chef; Martha Cerrato , banquet chef; and Ted Tyman, banquet chef. The chefs competed to represent APU at the regional competition in Colorado Springs and for a chance to compete in the national competition July 8 in San Jose. Each chef prepared a different dish featuring the main required ingredient, a Portobello mushroom. The chefs had 60 minutes to cook and prepare their dish, followed by a five minute plate preparation period, where each chef did their best to make their dish the most attractive. The competition was then out of their hands and in the hands of the judges. The judges were Associate Vice President of University Services Roger Hodsdon, director of food services at Hacienda and La Puente School District and former APU Hospitality Services Banquet Manager Doug Fore, and teacher at the Culinary Institute in Pasadena and former chef for APU Hospitality Services Brad Owen. The plates were judged on the same 40 point scale used at the NACUFS' Culinary Challenge and were based on the four criteria of taste, organization, sanitation, and technique. Each chef was also required to prepare a meal that was in line within the guideline of a nutritional meal. They were also required to perform three classic cuts, with a mandatory tournee cut, which is said to be one of the most difficult cuts. After the chefs sliced, diced, cut, and cooked their way to their best meal, the judges made their decision: with 33 points awarded for his Herb Shrimp with Portobello in a Sweet and Spicy Berry and Plum Vinaigrette, the honor of representing APU in the regional competition went to Mahesh Pradhan. Pradhan will travel to Colorado Springs in March and has the chance to compete in the nationals and a chance to win $500.